Wednesday, 22 December 2004

On Natural Liberty Again

Earlier I mentioned, however briefly, my preference for natural liberty—and being left alone in the process. The Professor has a piece over at his MSNBC site that captures my thought pretty well:

My criticism of the United Nations continues to generate hostile email along the lines of “you just don’t like the U.N. because it stands in the way of world hegemony by the Evil Bushitler and his Likudnik neo-con cabal.”

Uh, no. In fact, I’m not a fan of U.S. “world hegemony” at all. Being the world’s preeminent military and economic power has its pluses, but not many. Countries with little else to boast of may draw great solace from military power—the old Soviet Union did that, and many older Russians are still nostalgic—but American don’t care about such things nearly as much. We have better things to do, and most of us, or our ancestors, came here to escape the problems of the rest of the world. We’d much rather someone else dealt with them, and left us alone—though when we express such sentiments we are then accused of “isolationism,” often by the same people who are otherwise complaining about American “imperialism.”

This pretty well describes my attitude. On Iraq, I favor seeing the job through and helping them get as close to liberal democracy as possible. Beyond that, I’m not all that concerned with what the rest of the world thinks or wants. Provided they don’t pose a threat to us, let them live their own history and we’ll live ours.

Brad DeLong, whom I like much better as an economist, has a couple of posts that drive my point home. One, which is unintentionally galling, I think, has a discussion of some Republican congressmen going to India to find—horror of horrors—that they don’t care about us. Boo hoo. India has done nothing to help us—they don’t agree with our approach to Iraq and the war on terror—and I’m having a hard time understanding why we should care.

As India sees it, the coming century is a race between them and China for global dominance. Nevermind that it’s only been a couple of decades since India solved their starvation problem and they have yet to dismantle the leftovers of feudalism. Even if they become an economic powerhouse, I don’t see how we lose anything. The only thing they really have to offer us is trade and I think we should take it. Trade with them. End of story.

India becoming a major power shouldn’t be viewed as a threat to us. China could possibly pose a threat to us, in a military sense, but I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done about it. We will continue spending a good deal more on defense than the rest of the world and it will take decades for China to pose a threat to us, outside of nuclear weapons. On that, they would be insane to attack us because our nuclear arsenal is going nowhere unless we launch it against someone. I don’t think they want that, so, again, I’m not sure how we lose anything.

Then Brad has a rather cute post on the reaction of the right to the possibility of torture in Iraq and elsewhere. He ends it with the following statement:

I would say it’s at least nine months past time for the intellectuals of the right to start “speaking more loudly about these worrisome trends.”
Of course, if you read the post he provides no evidence to support this assertion. He’s reffering to Abu Ghraib, but he offers no justification for the flood-the-zone coverage that Abu Ghraib received. Nor does he offer any proof that Abu Ghraib was known to be part of a systemic attempt to mistreat prisoners. He simply offers assertion. It’s not proof.

If you wonder why I prefer a “natural liberty” approach to the rest of the world, this helps explain why. Thanks to the internet, I’ve been reading foreign newspapers for a few years now and it hasn’t “furthered my understanding” in the sense that most multiculturists yearn for. On the contrary, it’s convinced me that we should stay out of their affairs and involve ourselves with them as little as possible outside of commerce. Brad’s writings on politics are a good example of this, but it gets worse when you read foreign newspapers. They’re very quick to blame America when things go wrong and slow to accept responsibility for their own problems.

I might have more to say about this later, but I’ve got a couple of other things to do. I'll close with a Jefferson quote that seems more apt with each passing year:

"Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations--entangling alliances with none, I deem [one of] the essential principles of our government, and consequently [one of] those which ought to shape its administration." --Thomas Jefferson: 1st Inaugural Address, 1801. ME 3:321